National Day of Reflection March 23

23 March 2021

The Prime Minister has called on the country to mark Tuesday 23 March, the anniversary of the first lockdown, as a National Day of Reflection

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has called on the country to observe Tuesday 23rd March as a national day of Reflection, to mark the first anniversary of the Coronavirus lockdown.  He asks us all to observe a minute’s silence at 12 noon on Tuesday.  We shall then ring the All Saints church bell.  And we’ll fly the Union flag throughout the day.  At 8pm, we’re all invited to put candles or lanterns in our home windows.

A reflection by Canon Martin Greenfield

This video can also be found on our YouTube channel on this link:

Text of Martin's message.

Dear Friends, 

I imagine we can all remember how it was a year ago, when the Coronavirus which first started in Wuhan in China, began to spread rapidly across Europe and the UK.  

We all had to stay at home; protect the NHS; save lives.  Every day at 5pm there was a Downing Street briefing from Boris or Matt Hancock, with two medical experts.  People such as Sir Patrick Vallance, Prof Chris Whitty and Jonathan Tam became household names.

Daily on TV we saw charts showing how many new infections there were; how many hospital admissions, and how many deaths.  The Coronavirus pandemic is a tragic crisis.  Shockingly over 126,000 have died.  I expect we all know people who have died from Covid.

We’ve become used to social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands and working from home.  Many do the shopping for their neighbours, or they have it delivered.  If we go out to shop, we are used to waiting as we queue outside the supermarket.

So many have been bereaved.  So many have become poor.  Businesses have closed.  Everybody has been affected in some way.  There has been so much suffering for so many.  It’s right to stop and reflect.

We used to go out at 8pm on Thursdays to clap for the National Health Service workers.  We’ve become aware more than ever before of the vital work done by medics and also carers.  Children’s schooling has been badly disrupted, and we salute the massive effort made by teachers to continue to provide education.  We have had to face the fact or our national inequalities, and that it is the poor and disadvantaged who suffer the most.

We have learned to do things differently.  We meet with people on Zoom, or Teams or Whatsapp.  

As Churches, we also have had to adapt, as it’s not safe to meet together physically.  We join in worship services online.  We record or we livestream.  We are learning to think differently.  We are not yet able to meet physically again, and when we do things will not be the same as before.

So, for the National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23 March, may I suggest three questions for us to consider?

1. What have I learned?  About myself, about the nation, about God?  What have I learned?

2. What am I most concerned about?  It could be about anything – for example, not seeing family.  It could be a concern about others.  What am I most concerned about?

3. What changes do I want to see?  Again, this could be anything.  

What have I learned?

What am I most concerned about?

What changes do I want to see?

Asking ourselves these questions will help us to know how to pray.

The bible tells us that the whole universe belongs to God.  He is the ruler over all.  The little chorus has it right, He has the whole world in his hands. As it says in Psalm 100, The Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  

To close, let’s use the prayer written by the Dean of Southwark Cathedral for this occasion.

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, 

Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages. 

God of all that has been, that is, that is to come

as we reflect on the year that has past,

those we have lost, those we have missed,

the contact not made, the hopes dashed,

new things discovered, new opportunities seized,  new love embraced,

we thank you that you have been with us

and brought us to this day.

Stay with us as we step into your future

with faith and hope and love

and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

May God bless, guide and protect us all.  


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